A recent interest in homemade soda almost instantly led me to the fascinating world of the cocktail. I’ve made ginger ale a few times in the past two years, and discovered that cooking rhubarb and raspberries down into a syrup will make an entire bottle of vodka vanish before your [somewhat glazed-over] eyes. But the idea of making homemade grenadine was a whole new level of exciting for me. The first time I ever had a Shirley Temple was after my brother discovered a caterpillar crawling over the lettuce on the side of his plate at a restaurant my family would frequent. In an effort to alleviate our horror (more amusement on my part, really), the waitress brought over two glasses of beautiful, bubbly pink liquid. One sip, and I was hooked.
- You get to regulate the sweetness. Rose’s—delicious pink liquid crack that it is—is cloyingly sweet, and the yummy tartness of the pomegranate is all but lost.
- Ingredient control. (Knowing exactly what went into the stuff I’m putting my body often makes it taste even better!)
- Bragging rights. (Yet another way to show everyone how awesome and fancy you are.)
Now, there are several ways to make this. I opted for the most laborious (since I needed something to occupy my time while house sitting for my parents), but I have also noted numerous alternative and simpler methods. (I even deseeded the pomegranates for those of you that might be curious about a mess-free way to do so. However, if you only plan to make juice/grenadine with your seeds, I would highly recommend just chopping the thing in half and juicing it like an orange. That’s a huge time saver with a far-better yield.) My grenadine only contains pomegranate juice and sugar, but I have seen several recipes that call for a splash of orange blossom water. I am also very intrigued by Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s technique of adding pomegranate molasses, and will definitely be giving that a try next time.
This post is lengthy, picture-laden, and filled with options. Feel free to experiment and adjust things to your liking!
How to Deseed a Pomegranate
Pull the pomegranate apart under the water (to contain any juices that might otherwise get on your clothing, face, etc.), and scrape the seeds away from the pith. The seeds will sink to the bottom, while the pith will rise to the top.
Now, as I mentioned before, if you are only using the seeds for juice, it will be much easier to juice the pomegranate like an orange, rather than going through all of this. If, however, you find yourself with a bunch of seeds and a desire to juice some of them, there are several ways to do this. (1) Some people suggest pulsing them briefly in a food processor. The problem with this is that you risk breaking up the actual seed along with the aril (the delicious red casing that surrounds it), which can add a bitter taste to the juice. I would suggest avoiding this method all together. (2) Others suggest simmering the seeds in water or allowing them to steep overnight to extract the juices, but this will yield a somewhat diluted flavor. (3) If you have a ricer (and a way to somehow contain all of the juice that will come rocketing out of the thing), you can press them with that.
There was no ricer to be found at my parents’ house, and I was able to resist the siren song of my mother’s Vitamix (which begs me to pulverize anything and everything in it). Instead, I opted to place all of the seeds in a large ziploc bag and squeeze them with my hands. (Yeah, I was bored.) After I strained the entire thing, I wound up with about a cup of juice. Definitely a lot of work for a modest return, especially since you should be able to get around a cup of juice out of one large pomegranate (and I used two). So if you have citrus juicer, use it. But if you don’t, there are always alternative methods like this!
Now, if you live in an area where pomegranates are hard to come by, or you just don’t want to bother with the fruit itself, you can make things very easy and pick up a bottle of POM Wonderful 100% pomegranate juice. (I know, why did I go through all of that deseeding and juicing when you can just go buy a jug of the finished product?) It’s true—POM makes the process much easier, and cheaper. But for those of you who like to dabble in semi-lengthy, from-scratch methods now and again, get yourself a couple of pomegranates and give it a go. Going through the whole process will make that I’m Finally Done drink taste even better. :)
(adapted from many sources, but Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s post is the most in-depth)
Note: While I only wound up with a cup of juice, I have doubled the recipe below to give you a normal, “party-size” amount of grenadine.
- 2 cups of fresh pomegranate juice or POM Wonderful 100% juice
- 1 ¾ cups of granulated sugar (most recipes call for equal parts sugar and juice, but I wanted mine slightly less sweet)
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
- 2 oz. pomegranate molasses
Many recipes suggest bringing the mixture to a boil then allowing it to simmer until reduced by half. This is the way I’ve made both ginger and rhubarb syrup in the past, but I avoided that method here for two reasons: (1) Since you already have pomegranate juice, there’s no need to simmer the mixture for an extended amount of time while the flavors leech out into the liquid. (2) It seems to me that the less you can cook the stuff, the better. I’m not sure what how much a prolonged heating period would alter the taste of the juice, but if it isn’t necessary, then why bother?
If you don’t want to heat the mixture at all, you can follow the cold-press method. Simply combine the juice and sugar (in this case I would recommend caster/super-fine sugar) in a well-sealed container and shake the heck out of it for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
To do this on the stovetop, combine the juice and sugar together in a saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, then remove immediately. Alternatively, you can place the juice in a microwave-safe container, heat it for a minute or two then remove, add the sugar, and stir until dissolved.
At this point you can add in any other optional ingredients (like orange blossom water or pomegranate molasses). I also opted to add a splash of vodka to my syrup, for preservation’s sake. But if you’ll be using it up quickly, there’s really no need. (And if you’ll be serving Shirley Temples to children, it might not hurt to keep the hard stuff separate!)
Store the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge. Add it to drinks, or use it to flavor frosting, whipped cream, etc.